Flash packers

She canny take anymore Captain! She’s gonna blow!

This is going to sound like one massive brag but to set some context, we have never done the traditional travelling/backpacking thing. Our idea of roughing it is flying economy, not be because we’re rolling in money or anything but because we hate queuing and not being able to pack whatever the hell we like! When we travel to America for a three week holiday, we take the maximum allowance of 3 suitcases each! No item of clothing or lipstick gets left behind.

So packing for two adults, a toddler and a dog … For 18 months… was always going to be ugly.

There were some disagreements. For me (Sam) it was clothes. I agreed to not take dry clean only items. But I was still taking up three entire suitcases for just my clothes. In my defence, I wear an average of three layers because I’m always cold. Neil wears the exact same polo and jeans throughout a thirty degree temperature variance!

300 of Neil’s blue work shirts that don’t need ironing for a long time.

For Neil it was items like his cooking utensils. He wanted to pack his spices, peeler, knifes, Le Creuset Pots (I wish I was exaggerating!)

In fact, mere hours before the tenants moved in Neil made a dash to the house and our storage to grab extra luxuries. I made him leave the kitchen wear. I let him keep the hat!



The wobble

The months Neil was in his notice period we were very ambitious with our plans. At first we thought buying a holiday home was the answer and had our hearts set on Florida. But we didn’t think we could turn it around in time plus would we get the best use of a house so far away?

A big factor we had to consider was our dog Poppy. The thought of leaving her behind was putting a downer on the whole thing. We would only consider leaving her with someone we knew but even then, we were worried that she would think we were abandoning her. Plus she is our dog, part of the family. She is much older than she looks (14 this year!), she doesn’t have many teeth, her eye sight is rubbish but she has a massive personality. We often joke that she would take over the world.

Poppy came to live with us just before her 4th birthday has been a loving a loyal friend. Having our son Hugh was a big change for her but she adapted for us so we are going to stick by her and make this trip awesome for her too.

So we decided Poppy would come, we’d stick to Europe for long term trips and then if we want to go further afield, it’s not such a burden leaving Poppy for a shorter period of time.

We put the house up for rent, sat back and waited. When the call came in to say someone wanted to rent our house, that’s when we really panicked!

We’re we seriously going to do this? Do we really want to have no home for a year?

We spent a weekend weighing the pros and cons. Pro’s: they were awesome tenants, a corporate let with guaranteed income, they seem super nice, they are on an 18 month contract to work in the UK, they wanted the house fully furnished so no need to store our furniture.

Con: they want to move in – in two weeks.

In all honesty, we nearly bailed. We crunched the numbers to see if there was anyway we could do this trip but still have the comfort and safety of our home waiting for us. But we knew we’d end up either not doing anything or we’d wind up both where we started, working for the man.

Eventually we said “screw it, let’s do it”. After an incredibly intense fortnight of packing and prepping, we welcomed our new tenants and set sail!

The decision to travel

Neil had finally handed in his resignation and a few weeks In there was a noticeable change. It was like a weight was lifted of us both. The monotony of every day life was now only temporary. The pressures from work, irrelevant.

The end was neigh. It’s a feeling that’s both pretrifying and exhilarating. But it’s a double edged sword. Whilst we felt freedom approaching we also knew that the end of Neil’s working life meant no main income.

This is what keeps most of us trapped working for the man all our lives. We (like most people) live to our means. Eg, we spend all our income, rarely top up our savings and wonder why our credit card bill is so horrendous each month.

But we found after a month since resigning (Neil had a three month notice period) with the reduction in stress we were much more optimistic and less fearful. These are great conditions for creativity to thrive.

Our original plan was for Neil to leave his job and then he’d have the time to find another job. But the problem with that was would it change anything? Ideally we’d rather not work for the man at all. We have a few mottos/laws we have collected over the years and one of our favourites is “It’s not the problem that’s the problem” (thanks to a former teacher for that one!) . We don’t need to find the perfect career, the aspiration is we need more time to enjoy ourselves and be with our son. The problem isn’t we need to work to pay bills, the problem is we need money to pay for what we need to pay for.

This is starting to sound like one of those clickbait blogs that try to sell you an over priced eBook. We’re not that desperate yet! In short we had to reduce our bills and increase our income. Simples!

And that’s where the idea to rent out our house and go travelling. The rent covers the mortgage and not having a home reduces bills significantly! Yes, we’re going to be homeless!

It wasn’t quite as easy a decision as that for indecisive people. There were many late night discussion, weighing the pros and cons. But it was ultimately weighing up the risk factor. What’s the worse that can happen? We come back and resume our lives as before?


How did we get here?

As our tagline states, we are VERY indecisive as a family. When we tell our friends our latest plans to remodel our house, move house or our wedding plans they are supportive but know it probably won’t happen.

But eventually we did move house (after 13 years), we did get married (10 years in), we had a child (15 years).

Now we have made those big decisions, everything seems a bit simpler. But something was missing…. TIME.
Our twenties were spent care free, no responsibilities, we were financially comfortable and enjoyed flashy holidays, sports cars and booze.

When our son Hugh came along, we felt things had to change! We bought bigger cars, a bigger house. Sam stopped working (ok, I hadn’t worked in a while, but still!). Neil was working even harder and the hours getting longer.

We had fallen into the mid-thirties, middle class trappings. Time for a mid-life crisis!

Neil had been wanting to change jobs for some time but there was never the time to apply and go to interviews. At weekends our house needed the grass cut, the car serviced, the windows cleaned etc.

Meanwhile Sam and Hugh were together in the house 24 hours week after week for a year! Even though I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic set of friends, even if I was lucky enough to see them weekly, there’s still a long time between those visits!

It was a gradual process but Neil read a book that said something along the lines of “If you spent as much time working for yourself as you do for your boss, what could you achieve?”

That was a lightbulb moment. At the moment there was no time to even think what we wanted to do with our lives, let alone how we are going to achieve it.

Just for fun, I suggested Neil write a resignation letter. It felt good! And that’s when we decided Neil would quit his job! Once he wasn’t working he’d have more headspace and time to invest in his own needs. This isn’t as reckless as it’s sounds either. We have income from elsewhere, just not enough to meet our current lifestyle needs.

After carrying the resignation in his bag for a month. Neil handed it in.